“The bosses' brains are under the cap of the working man.”
― William "Big Bill" Haywood, IWW
While those against the right to organize continue the canard that unions only want more money, workers know they want a seat at the table in partnership with their employers to share their experience to build the company to greater success. When President Obama finally granted TSA Officers limited collective bargaining rights in a sense he further eroded TSA Officers’ ability to contribute to the success of the Agency.
So the announcement of the addition of a union member to the TSA Aviation Security Advisory Committee was welcome news. Unfortunately while stakeholder unions like the Airline Pilots Association and the Association of Flight Attendants rightly contribute to the Agency’s mission, TSA continues to lockout those on the frontlines.
The TSA Aviation Security Advisory Committee includes those representing passengers, victims of terrorist acts against aviation, airport managers, aircraft security and equipment manufacturers, airline executives, and those working in the air cargo sector.
TSA Officers stood up to serve after 9/11 shepherding the Agency through its growing pains with professionalism and patriotism. The Agency was mismanaged for years under workplace rules that stifled innovation and built record attrition levels and low Officer morale.
It took President Obama five years to keep his promise and when collective bargaining finally was granted the TSA Officers chose the American Federation of Government Employees over the National Treasury Employees Union leading to a first agreement. While any collective bargaining is better than none, it still left the TSA Union locked out of vital decisions.
When an LAX Officer was killed on duty the TSA convened a review panel that did include AFGE but it is not clear if an actual TSO was part of AFGE’s group. According to the report TSO’s were offered to include their opinion through a TSA controlled website making it unclear who responded. TSA convened three meetings rather than ask all stakeholders to fill out an online response form so clearly some opinions are more valued than others to the Agency. So far questions to AFGE have gone unreturned. I will update once a response is received.
Collective bargaining is no different than the TSA Standard Operating Procedures, i.e. it is a process that ensures a good result. When aviation passengers are screened it is done in a uniform manner. The workplace should be no different. But if those on the front-lines are locked out of the development of effective workplace standards then collective bargaining is undermined.